22 March 2013

Modifications- Engine Upgrade

This post regarding Ship Upgrades is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Note: Ship Upgrades are considered Modifications. Any ship may purchase and use a single Modification.

Engine Upgrade (4)
Card Text:
Your action bar gains the <boost symbol> action icon.
Usage in game: Uhhh... when you want the Boost Action available to a ship that doesn't normally possess it?
Breakdown: I wrote a BBB on the Boost Action a couple of weeks ago, so I don't plan on rehashing what the Boost Action is in this article, so if you're not familiar with Boost and what it's good for, take a moment to peek at that article before reading on. 

The coolest thing about Engine Upgrade, and Modifications in general is you can stick them on any ship (so long as you have the points, of course). You're still able to take Pilot Skills, weapons, droids, whatever in addition to the Modification, so except for the other available mods, you're not really giving up anything or locking yourself out of another upgrade.

I want to like Engine Upgrade in particular because it's the only Modification currently that can't really get shot off your ship- at least without drawing a face-up Damage card that disallows stuff in your Action Bar. Is it worth it though? Seems cool on paper, but how does it work for rizzle?

First, let's look at what ships we'd consider for an Engine Upgrade, which is ships that don't have the Boost Action stock.

Rebs: X-Wing, Y-Wing, YT-1300
Imps: TIE Fighters, TIE Advanced, Firespray-31

Secondly, are there any ships that Boosting would be particularly effective with? Especially in comparison to the other Modifications? 

I think for the Rebels and Imperials, having a Boosting big ship is kinda pointless. I mean sure, maybe you can use it to get into Range 1 or something, but as you're burning an Action to perform your Boost, you'd probably be better off just declaring Focus most of the time with a ship that big. Also realize that this Modification isn't going to keep you from (or even allow you to) bonking into Obstacles or other ships, which is where a lot of folks have issues using the big ships. If you hear people talking about using Engine Upgrade to create some blocking ships, just remember they can't overlap you with a Boost Action. 

Briefly re-hashing, I think the main thing Boost gets you is a little more maneuverability- namely moving out of an enemy's firing arc or moving so that an enemy outside of your arc is now in your arc probably being the most common uses. As the big ships have such gigantic bases, I think it's fairly unlikely a Boost is going to do much in either of those departments for you. Not saying it's not possible, just saying it's probably not likely enough to be worth the 4 points. Doubly so when you take into account the YT-1300 has the 360 degree firing arc and the Firespray can shoot its primary weapon backwards. 

So what about the smaller ships? 

I want to like the idea of a Boosting Y-Wing, but I can't get behind that. Most everyone sticks an Ion Cannon Turret on their Y-Wings anyway, so like the YT, having somebody in your arc isn't a big deal. Yes, you could use it to potentially escape some enemy ship's firing arc, but the Y-Wing is already so limited in maneuverability, most opponents will be all over a Y-Wing like a wet blanket if they want to be, Boost Action or no. PTL + Engine Upgrade doesn't work here either because none of the Y-Wing pilots can take Elite Pilot Skills. A case could be made for looking at adding an Engine Upgrade in lieu of an Ion Cannon Turret to save a point and add some maneuverability to get that primary weapon in a position where it can do more damage, but that's strictly a theory on my part- I've not tried it on the tabletop. Long story long, I think, much like the big ships, there are better Modifications for this ship than Engine Upgrade. 

Ships that get in close to the action will likely benefit from a Boost Action and X-Wings often get up close and personal when they're fighting. When you're that close to your enemy, a Boost maneuver can easily get you out of harm's way or get an opponent ship into your own firing arc. Additionally, one could roll a PTL + Engine Upgrade combo with Wedge and get fairly scary results, especially with another pilot dishing Free Actions or tokens of some kind. Like sticking Expert Handling on Luke or Wedge, Engine Upgrade could be good to produce completely unexpected movement results, especially against those seasoned players who seem to have the maneuverability table memorized for every single ship and plan accordingly.

4 points seems like a fairly significant investment in a TIE Fighter, where it can be anywhere from a third of the cost of the ship itself to a little under a quarter of the cost, depending what pilot you decide to stick it to. I do like it though. Again, TIEs get up close and personal, so being able to Boost out of a Range 1 X-Wing's arc is pretty nice. Is it worth it on a ship that can already Barrel Roll? That's solely going to depend on you and your ability to play the Boost. I have to think though having that as additional option could come in handy. Especially on a ship like Backstabber (to get out of the target's firing arc), Gundark (to get into Range 1), Night Beast (largely because he usually has an Action to spare, so why not?) or even to give a Black Squadron TIE a little more maneuverability to help keep him within the Range of any Elite Pilot Skills he might be carrying. As Bikini Aficionado heychadwick pointed out in the BBB- Boost Action Explained! comments, pulling a 1 turn then a Boost is darn near a 180 that's completely Stress free.

Advanced seem a decent fit for an Engine Upgrade, but not overwhelmingly so. Vader's an obvious candidate with his two Actions per round special rule, Maarek and the rest of the Advanced? Nothing spectacular really comes to mind, though again- if you're the type of player who pushes things forward, and let's face it, in this context that's a great way to try and get a little more juice out of those 2 Attack dice guns, being able to Boost isn't a bad thing. 
Regardless of what ship you attach the Engine Upgrade to, being an Action, you're going to get more precise use out of it with higher PR pilots, which of course, means more expensive pilots. Tacking on another 4 points to the overall cost of a ship is kinda significant, but as Wave 2 lists seem to be skewing towards less, but better pilots with more upgrades, it's worth giving a day in court

21 March 2013

Crew Members- Mercenary Copilot

This post regarding Crew Members is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Mercenary Copilot (2)
Card Text:
When attacking at Range 3, you may change one of your <hit> results to a <crit> result.
Usage in game: When you absolutley, positively need a crit...
Action?: No

Breakdown: Another card that's pretty straightforward in its use; if you score at least one hit, you can change it into a crit. Simple enough, right?

So I think everyone who has any recognition at all of Wave 2 pilots immediately thought one (or possibly both) of the following-

1. "Hey! I can mitigate the loss of crits via the Heavy Laser Cannon special text with this card!"
2. "Hey! I can stick this guy in the seat next to Kath Scarlet, and make it rain (Crits and Stress Tokens) on 'dem hoes!"

Both of these are great uses for Mercenary Copilot, no debating that. In order to fill some space for the rest of this article though, let's look at two other things- 1) is changing a hit to a crit worth it, and 2) is there anyone else who can benefit from this besides Scarlet?

As for the worthiness, it's a pretty reasonable trade-off for only 2 points. What might make the decision a little tougher is the fact that the Firespray only has one Crew Member slot. By it's nature, and by that I mean Imperial, it doesn't have all of the Crew Members available, but it does have Weapons Engineer and Gunner, both of which can be handy in their own ways. So looking at Mercenary Copilot in that context, is he worth putting in that somewhat precious 2nd chair?  

Dig this, and I may have kind of alluded to this before- I can't remember if I was on the FFG Forums, just emailing with people, or if I actually said it on here, but I think in Wave 1, critical damage wasn't really all that necessary. It was nice when it happened, but if you went an entire match without inflicting a crit, not only was it not the end of the world, it probably didn't even really affect your game plans. It was like icing on a donut, y'know? Tasty, but not entirely necessary.

In Wave 2 though, with the big ships on the table, the ability to inflict a critical becomes more important. The big ships, especially the YT, have so much hull, you gotta figure they're going to be flying around shieldless for a decent portion of the match. First few turns, most opponents are going to key on the opponent's big ship, perhaps burning off most, if not all, of the shields while the owning player flies it around willy-nilly, because it's pretty unlikely any 100 point list is capable of killing it in one turn of firing. Then inevitably, some ships get downed, and with less ships firing on her, that YT spends a bunch of game time with a few damage on her hull while she flies around, still fully functional, continuing to soak up fire and down ships- for God's sake, how do you stop it?

Well, you can always stock up on Homing Missiles, which is what a lot of folks seem to be doing right now, or you can work on finding an even semi-reliable way to inflict face-up Damage cards to reduce the effectiveness of those big ships. And since Mercenary Copilot only works at Range 3, you've also got the perfect excuse not to just push all your stuff forward at max speed like a 4th ed 40k Tyranid player.

Is Mercenary Copilot worth more than a Gunner? After all, Gunner certainly does have his uses. I don't know. I really want to say emphatically yes, but I can't quite do it. I will say this though- in the 2 points versus 5 points department? If I can allocate those three points elsewhere doing something like turning an Academy Pilot into a Black Squadron or Winged Gundark, or upgrading a Saber Squadron into Fel's Wrath? He might be more valuable in that context.

A lot of folks complain about the Firespray's lower hull and shields compared to the YT, but the YT's the Sloth-like offspring of an X-Wing and a Y-Wing that somehow came out 2x sized- it can deal out some hurt, and it can take a whole lot more. The Firespray though, most of the pilots and upgrades for her push her towards acting as a long-range gun platform. You can square peg her into a round hole and make her rougher for up close work, but I think as time goes on, most successful lists will go with the flow and have her floating around the backline, only crusing into close-quarters when really necessary. 

For the YT, I feel basically the opposite. I think if it's at Range 3, you're probably not doing what you ought to with her, so Mercenary Copilot is inherently of less use. Not to say you shouldn't ever try him out in a YT, but I can't really see trying to fly that ship around and bombing in long range shots like a Firespray with an HLC, or being nearly as effective for even Han as he is being the Crew Member for Kath Scarlet or Krassis Trelix.

I also think this might be the only time taking Proton Torpedoes (via the Slave I title card that most everyone says is totally pointless) might work out pretty well on a Firespray. The card text on PTs allows you to change an eyeball to a crit, then assuming you roll one more hit amongst the three other dice, Mercenary Copilot would kick in to make it (at least) two crits. Not bad for a roll of eyeball, hit, other, and other. If you want to really be disgusting, pair it up with Marksmanship on a pilot that can use Elite Pilot Skills.

This little combo works on any Firespray pilot as well- Kath sliding a Stress Token towards the opponent if they cancel that business, Trelix doing the die result changing and re-rollling one of the undesirable results, even Fett could benefit from this with his high PR, there wouldn't be much an opponent could do to stop it (especially if he spent the first turn grabbing a TL and a buddy burned off a couple of shields later in that first turn- top of the 2nd, Fett Focuses or Marksmanships then throws this business out there). 

It might work most (points) efficiently on a Bounty Hunter though. If you'd kind of reverse the Fett line of thinking and send in a couple of TIEs, Advanced, or Interceptors with a higher PR to strip some shields of a particularly problematic small ship, having a PR 3 Bounty Hunter throw in some Torps from a Mercenary Copilot to deliver a coup-de-grace isn't likely to be stupidest thing you do that day. Of course, you can't use Marksmanship to make it truly silly, but for the points, it's not a bad setup.

20 March 2013

Cerebral LOLsy- Screwed Falcon Pic

Found this in my inbox earlier courtesy of Bikini Aficionados Guitarded7xx and Reddogg. 

A friend of mine and I staged this pic. Thought you’d enjoy it. Look closely at the Target Locks. And we know not all of those ships can use target locks – that wasn't the point.

Good stuff! Thanks fellas!

Bikini Battle Basics- Obstacles and Asteroids Explained!

Bikini Battle Basics is a new series here on TheMetalBikini.com where we dissect certain game mechanics to aid in understanding and promote effective application. In short, it's stuff you need to know, but is somewhat obtuse or hard to understand and warrants further discussion, but don't fit directly into a category like Listbuilding, for example. 

Obstacles and Asteroids

All right. So first, technically, yeah- asteroids are obstacles in X-Wing Miniatures. I just figured if I titled this post, BBB- Obstacles, folks wouldn't know what I was talking about as everyone in my neck of the woods simply refer to the tokens as asteroids. Currently, they're the only obstacles, but that may change down the road, obviously. 

Obstacles are discussed in the X-Wing Miniatures Rule Book towards the back on page 20. There's really only a few things you need to understand about obstacles- initial placement, effects on ships that collide with them, and effects on ships trying to shoot past them. Like in real life, they can have some devastating effects on your game if you're not careful. 

Initial Placement of Obstacles
Initial placement is simple enough- in most dogfight games without special house rules, specific tournament rules, or scenario rules, you and your buddy each get three and you take turns placing them starting with the Imperial player (note I'm not leaving off a bit about initiative that's usually there, it's not mentioned in my rules; just says "Imperial Player"- you'll see why in a sec.). The only rules here is that you can't place an Obstacle within Range 1-2 of any edge of the play area. After you're finished with placement, the Rebel player gets to choose which side of the table he deploys from. I find lots of references on forums regarding setting up asteroids to make it tougher on your opponent. It makes me wonder if these folks know something I don't, or they've forgotten the bit about the Rebel player getting to pick his table edge.

Obstacles and Maneuvering & Actions
As you'd expect, Obstacles affect ships that overlap them kinda like when you overlap another ship. Ships that execute a maneuver where either the ship's base or the movement template overlap an Obstacle lose their Perform Action step and have to roll an Attack die. If that die comes up a hit or crit (local parlance), then the ship suffers that damage (as per usual- against shields if they have them, against Hull if not, etc., etc.). One thing that bit me in the KRT- if you mange to land your base on top of one of the bigger Obstacles, you'll likely hit it again when you attempt to maneuver off of it because your template will overlap the Obstacle again, which of course triggers the usual effects I just mentioned above again

Note the main thing that trips folks up here (including me at the KRT) is that it doesn't have to be the ship's base doing the overlapping- if you lay down a movement template and it overlaps the Obstacle, you invoke the penalties for bonking into one. I totally thought it only mattered if my base hit it, but nope- template too!

Also notice that you don't move your ship back along the template if you overlap an Obstacle like you do when you overlap a ship. Your ship still executes the maneuver you picked on your dial (or was picked for you by an Ion). I've seen folks mess this up too. Don't be that guy

Another thing I see that confuses people is whether or not they can use Actions if they hit an Obstacle. The text says you lose your Perform Action step, but what effect does that have on Free Actions, pilots that get an Action Token if they pull a particular maneuver, or pilots who dish tokens to other ships? 

If you look it up, the Perform Action step is step 6 of the Activation phase which the rule book describes as: 
The ship may perform one action. Actions provide a wide range of benefits and are described on pages 8-9. A ship with one or more stress tokens cannot perform actions (see Stress on page 17). 

So what's that mean exactly? 

Well first, you can't declare an Action with that particular ship this turn. Doesn't matter if it's out of your Action bar or something you've bought as an upgrade. That part pretty much everyone gets right, but it can get complicated really quickly with Free Actions and Action Tokens being passed around, so what's the story?  

If you're dished an Action Token, like a Focus from Garven Dreis or Lando, or a Target Lock from Dutch Vander, you're home free right off the bat. Remember what I talked about in the Multiple Actions, Single Actions Explained! article? Most of that applies here too- namely the part about spending an Action Token not actually being the Action. Same goes for guys who get a token if they do a particular maneuver, incur a Stress token, etc. Just be aware that some movement methods (like Boost) don't actually allow you to execute that movement into an Obstacle, so it may actually be a moot point in some specific cases. 

What about Free Actions though? Like if somebody with Squad Leader is flying around near the guy who dinged the Obstacle? Can he pass along a Free Action? The answer here is yes. Remember a Free Action is simply an Action that doesn't count against the "one Action per turn" quota, but the rest of that sentence (from the top of page 8) reads, 

"If an ability allows a ship to perform a "free action" this action does not count as the one action allowed during the Perform Action step." 

Long story short, if a Free Action doesn't count as the Action in the Perform Action step, then it doesn't happen in the Perform Action step (usually, it happens in somebody else's Perform Action step than the ship that ends up being the recipient of the Free Action). A little bit of reading into the rule there, but that's what the official FAQ says, so that's how it works. 

EDIT: Wanted to add some content to this section from feedback in the comments below. 

A question was asked regarding Barrel Rolling and Obstacles with some Squad Leader Free Action thrown in for good measure. 

To answer this question brings up some other good points about Obstacles and Actions (as opposed to Maneuvers), so I wanted to highlight it a bit here. 

First, to answer the questions- No, Yes. 

Here's why- 

No Attack roll gets made to see if the TIE damages itself for moving off the Obstacle because the whole template overlap trigger deal only happens with Maneuvers, not Actions. As Barrel Roll (or Boost, for that matter) is an Action, that criteria doesn't apply here. To answer a possible derivative question down the road, no, there's really no way an Attack roll could happen because you can't legally Barrel Roll (or Boost) if your ship's base is going to end up on an Obstacle- you just pick another Action (if possible) to perform instead. 

Second part, the TIE can now fire because the rules reference being on top of an Obstacle in the Combat Phase for that ship. As the TIE in AMike's question has moved off via the Squad Leader Action from Vader (which must have happened before the TIE's Combat Phase because of Vader's Pilot Skill 9- i.e. when he'd have passed it) and is no longer overlapping in the Combat Phase, he's completely free to Attack another ship this round. xad5xhytg  <-- my oldest just ran up and hit a bunch of keys on the keyboard while I was writing this. 

Big ups to Rules Gangsta and Bikini Aficionado Marty Ellenberger for keeping a brotha on point. 

Obstacles and Combat
First, understand that an intervening Obstacle (just like ships), even one that denies you line-of-sight, never completely denies you a shot on your target as long as you're not touching it. I've seen some folks claim they're completely obscured by an Obstacle- not in this game you're not. We ain't playin' 40k here, boys- no camping!

What does happen is the defender can possibly get an extra green die if the shortest path between the base of the Attacker and the base of the Defender (i.e. the Range Rule) overlaps an Obstacle. If that happens, the Defender gets a green die. 

This got FAQ'ed a little bit in reference to the width of the X-Wing Miniatures range ruler. If it's an issue, like the ruler only partially overlaps the obstacle, turn the ruler on its side and use the skinny edge to draw the shortest path between the bases and see if you overlap, and use the rule as appropriate.  

Last bit, and really I'm just drawing attention to something I just mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago- if you're overlapping an Obstacle in the Combat Phase, you can't attack any ship. However, and I've seen people miss this second part before, so pay attention, the overlapping ship may be targeted as usual by other ships. 99% sure we played this wrong at my local FLGS Kessel Run as I seem to remember me attempting to do this on purpose to deny shots and hopefully force a fly-by of the TIE Swarm I was facing. Karma works though- I lost my last Hull point on the collision with the asteroid. 

So there ya go- simple, right? Now go play!

Crew Members- Gunner

This post regarding Crew Members is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Gunner (5)
Card Text:
After you perform an attack that does not hit, immediately perform a primary weapon attack. You cannot perform another attack this round.
Usage in game: Attack outcome insurance policy
Action?: No

Breakdown: So this card is extremely similar to Crew Member Luke. In fact, aside from the two point difference and the single die Focus-lite ability, there's virtually no difference between them. Pretty much everything I said in that article also applies here.

For the sake of completeness, I'm going to copy-paste a bunch of that article after these first few paragraphs so folks who for whatever reason are only interested in Gunner don't have to click over to the Crew Member Luke page to find out what's up, but before I do that, I want to mention two things for my longtime, everyday readers who already read and commented on the copy in the CML article. This way you guys don't get bored, or as bored at least.

I touched on this in the Crew Member- Weapons Engineer article, but wanted to mention it here as well- if you read the card text closely for Gunner, you'll see that nowhere does it state you have to fire at the same target as your original attack (that didn't hit) when the Gunner text kicks in. This isn't like massively game-changing, but a couple of things jumped out at me after this was brought to my attention:

1. If there's somebody at Range 3 that's fairly dangerous, you're really not losing much by taking a crack at him. If the attack doesn't hit, you can select a nearer target that hopefully you'll have better luck hitting once the Gunner text kicks in. Of course, if it does hit, lucky you!

2. You can also use this ploy to try and burn off a Focus or Evade token from your target, making your Gunner attack more likely to invoke Damage on that target or from another allied ship firing on her later in the turn.

Second thing I want to mention is criteria for choosing Gunner over CML. First and most obvious, two points is two points. Again- the only difference between Gunner and CML is that CML gives a single die Focus. If that isn't worth 2 points to you, there's no sense in paying for it.

So what's two points get you? On Outer Rim Smuggler? Not a hell of a lot. On any of the named pilots who can take Elite Pilot Skills? There's a decent amount of fairly interesting stuff to be had for those two points- Squad Leader, Swarm Tactics, Elusiveness, ooooh- Expert Handling! That'd be a trip, wouldn't it? A barrel rollin', Target Lock sheddin' Falcon? Oh, I know, I know, you'd incur a Stress Token. Know what I say to that? Bluh! If you aren't going to try that in at least one game, just for the lulz, then you disappoint me, brother. You disappoint me.

Additionally, Luke is, of course, "dotted", meaning he's a unique pilot. Meaning you can't take multiple copies of him. Meaning that if you were planning on taking Luke Skywalker, X-Wing Pilot, you can't also take Luke Skywalker, Crew Member.

I think that's pretty much it for the new stuff about Gunner. What follows is basically a copy-paste from the CML article. I'll post up another BBB around lunch time to make up for a fairly short article to make up for it. Wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea.

Gunner is kind of a confusing card at first glance. Let's break it down into a couple of pieces so we can grasp the card text a little easier. Here's what we've got-

1. You've performed an attack that doesn't hit.
Ok- what does that mean though? Like I missed with all my dice or I got some hits, but they were mitigated by the target's defense dice, Evade tokens, Draw Their Fire, etc?

Right. When we play this game, if you're like me, you roll the Attack dice and say stuff like, "2 hits, 1 crit." This isn't entirely accurate if you read the Combat Phase steps. What you've really got are filled explosion symbols and unfilled explosion symbols. If those results aren't Cancelled then those symbol results become capital-H Hits and Critical Damage, respectively. 

(Note, it was when I was writing this for the Luke article that I was inspired to write the Bikini Battle Basics- The Combat Phase Explained! article. Check it out if you need to brush up on your seven steps.)

So what does the card text mean by "doesn't hit?" An attack that nets no hits against the defender. That is, you didn't roll any explosion symbols or you didn't roll enough to get past his wavy arrow die rolls, eyeball results and he burns a Focus, his Evade tokens, or any combination thereof. If you didn't register a hit against the target ship in the Combat Phase sense of the word, then you can trigger Gunner, so something like Draw Their Fire wouldn't work as a trigger for Gunner's ability- the attack hit, it just gets moved to another ship.

EDIT: In the comments on the Luke article, Bikini Aficionado Patrick brings up a point that Dark Curse's special text might not affect Luke, and therefore Gunner, after all- and I can see where he's coming from. 

DC's card text says no Focus and no re-rolls. Gunner/ Luke's ability is a "a primary weapon attack", not a specifically called-out re-roll. I'd keep an eye on the FFG Rules Forums and subsequent FAQs because I could see this falling on either side of the fence depending on how the game devs wanted DC's ability to work exactly, but for now, I have to say that Gunner and Luke both can be used on Dark Curse.

Note that if your target spends a token in an effort to mitigate your initial attack, that token of course, stays gone (yet another reason why I think Action and token management is going to be super important to successful lists nowadays).

Last bit to add about this- while it's probably somewhat unlikely that you're firing missiles from a YT-1300, but it's entirely likely you're firing a Heavy Laser Cannon or Ion Cannon from a Firespray. In any case, Gunner doesn't care if the initial attack is from a primary or secondary weapon- if the attack don't hit, you must acquit. I mean, you can trigger Gunner's ability.

2. Immediately perform a primary weapon attack.
Ok, so you must fire the primary weapon of the ship Gunner's riding around inside. No missiles, etc.

3. You cannot perform another attack this round.
This last bit throws folks for a bit of a loop too. My take on it is if you've managed to not hit with your first, initial attack, then you manage to somehow not hit with Gunner too, you can't then turn around and attempt a third attack, via Luke or something if you're flying a YT-1300 as all the pilots all have two Crew Member icons (Firesprays only have 1, so moot point there). Either that or it's written with Wave 3 in mind and perhaps there's some mechanism that allows a ship more than one attack per round. In any case, once you're done with Gunner, you're done with that ship.

Still with me? Makin' dollars to ya? It's kind of not too bad if you break it down in chunks when you try to understand it. Of course, that said, I've probably gone and effed something up that'll get me torn apart in the comments.

I think the usage of this upgrade is fairly self-explanatory- if you've tooled up an offensive Falcon or Firespray in your list, but don't have a ton of Actions floating around, Gunner's likely a must-have unless you've got bigger plans for a different pilot. Firesprays might be better off with Mercenary Copilot depending on the pilot driving, but I'll talk about that more in the Mercenary Copilot article.

All right, so last thing I want to mention for this post is this: you need to think a little carefully with Gunner the first few times you use him. There are times you might want to do some things that seem a little counter-intuitive at first glance to try and maximize your options. Don't get in the habit of purposely throwing away good rolls to try and trigger Gunner, but at the same time, if you don't have a great attack, don't waste your Focus tokens to register a single hit on a ship with more than 1 Hull Point left. Ideally, you want to make that token count, as your ship likely only has 1 or 2 defense dice and is a big target, you could probably get better use out of it on a defense roll later in the turn. 

Conversely, if you're defending against someone who has Gunner on board, there are times you might not want to spend your Focus or Evade tokens too. If you can get away with only 1 hit on an otherwise undamaged ship, you might be better off saving your tokens for later attacks too. By allowing that single hit to register, you prevent your opponent from triggering Gunner and probably making it much worse on yourself. 

Bear in mind in either of those scenarios listed above, it's still up to you when to spend a Focus token. You could opt to not spend the Focus on your initial attack roll, but then spend it to modify the Gunner roll and be completely and totally within the rules of the game. For defenders, looking to not take a butt kicking, keep an eye on the tokens available to the ship with Gunner- if he scores a single hit and is sitting on a Focus token, for goodness' sake, take that hit! If he re-rolls with the Gunner ability and a Focus token? Hoo boy.  

Using Gunner can be a bit of a gamble (in that you've already got a pretty decent shot at hitting what you're shooting at to begin with kind of gamble, not in respect to outcome- Gunner definitely increases your chances of hitting [rule book sense of the term] at that point), and a 5 points, it's not a gamble for everybody. I plan on flying my YT-1300 without him for a bunch of games to weigh whether or not I really need to spend that 5 points to make sure I hit my targets or if I'm better off spending those points elsewhere. As usual, your mileage may vary. I tend to play from a more survival-focused, try not to die, try not to lose, kind of mindset rather than max out on attacks and go for broke approach. That's just me and the way I usually play games of just about any kind. Gunner's probably not the greatest fit for me and my lists, but he may be exactly what you need to make sure that all those points you spent on Han Solo are downing a ship or getting really close to it every single time the Falcon throws some red out of that 360 turret.

19 March 2013

Bikini Battle Basics- Ion Weapons Explained!

Bikini Battle Basics is a new series here on TheMetalBikini.com where we dissect certain game mechanics to aid in understanding and promote effective application. In short, it's stuff you need to know, but is somewhat obtuse or hard to understand and warrants further discussion, but don't fit directly into a category like Listbuilding, for example. 

Ion Weapons

I just recently realized I've been playing Ions wrong from basically the start, which while disappointing to be sure, I think will turn out to be a good thing in the long run, at least for the purposes of TheMetalBikini.com and readers like you. 

After my incorrect rule interpretation was brought to light, I wondered how many other people have been playing it wrong as well. Not trying to sound egocentric or anything- I hope that doesn't come off as, "Oh, well if I've got it wrong, everyone else must too" as that's not my intention. The fact of the matter is though, I wrote the Ion Cannon Turret post with my previous (in other words, incorrect) understanding of the rule quite a while back and none of y'all called me on it. Don't bother clicking on it now and trying to find where I screwed it up- I've fixed it. And yeah, I realized all of this before I posted Ion Cannon, so don't bother. :) 

Secondly, there's the matter of the rule being written with some rather ambiguous language. The rule isn't exactly 100% straightforward to begin with, so it's rather easy to see how and why so many people have gotten this rule wrong. 

So what's the story with Ion Weapons? You've got two groups of rules, essentially- the card text on the Ion Weapon cards themselves (Ion Cannon Turret and Ion Cannon) and the Ion Token card. The weapon cards explain how to inflict an Ion Token upon some poor sap, the Ion Token card, as you might expect, explains what that means exactly when a ship ends up with one. 

First, let's look at the text on the Ion Cannon Turret and Ion Cannon cards. The text is virtually identical save for an inconsistency where the ICT talks about the target ship and the IC which talks about the defender. I'm comfortable saying they're virtually identical, other than the bit on the turret card being able to fire at stuff outside the firing arc. The text is as follows: 

If this attack hits the target ship/ defender, the ship suffers 1 damage and receives 1 ion token. Then cancel all dice results. 

Ok, so first, the word "hit" is an official rulebook sense of the word "hit", not the local parlance for a attack die result that looks like a filled in explosion symbol. For more info on that, check out the Bikini Battle Basics- Combat Phase Explained!. To sum up succinctly, if after cancellation you've got at least one hit on your target, he suffers one damage and gets an ion token. 

What effect does this Ion Token have on the target? Does it have an immediate effect besides the 1 Damage? 

Well, yes and no. He does immediately gets the token, but it doesn't really have any effect until after this round ends- that is, he can still use any Action Tokens he has in play and shoot as normal for the rest of this game round. 

As soon as the End Phase is complete, ending that game round, a new round begins with another Planning Phase. That's when you pick up all your movement dials and start selecting the maneuvers for your ships. The guy that has the ship with the Ion Token though doesn't select a maneuver on his dial though- he now has some sparkly new special rules to adhere to. This is when the text on the Ion Token actually invokes some effects. The Ion Token card text is as follows... 

Drum roll, please. 

Drum roll

1. Planning Phase: The owner does not assign a maneuver dial to this ship. Yes, this is the only way I know of to keep somebody from dropping Seismic Charges out the back of a Firespray. 

2. Activation Phase: The owner moves the ship as if it were assigned a white 1 straight maneuver. After executing this maneuver, remove all ion tokens from the ship. It may perform Actions as normal. 

3. Combat Phase: The ship may attack as normal. 

So that's it. 

The only other thing worth mentioning about Ion Tokens is you need two of them on a YT-1300 or Firespray to ionize it as they're large ships. 

As I've alluded to before, an ion shot in and of itself isn't bad, especially on some super maneuverable, super dangerous enemy, but the time you really want to get an ion shot in is on a ship with a Stress Token. As Ion Token card point number 2 forces them into making a white maneuver instead of a green one, they keep the Stress Token and therefore can't declare an Action this turn. That's good stuff right there. 

Crew Members- Weapons Engineer

This post regarding Crew Members is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Weapons Engineer (3)
Card Text: You may maintain two target locks (only 1 per enemy ship). When you acquire a Target Lock, you may lock onto 2 different ships.

Usage in game: Free Action Target Lock
Action?: No

Breakdown: When the text for this card broke after the Kessel Run Tournaments, it confused some people. It did me as well, but for a different reason.

It does what it says it does- if you've purchased the Weapons Engineer Crew Member and you perform a Target Lock, instead of just locking onto one enemy ship at Range 1-3, you can stick a token on a second ship also within Range 1-3. You don't pass the second token along a la Dutch Vander or anything strange like that, and like the card explicitly calls out, you can't Target Lock the same ship twice. You perform one Target Lock, you can grab two ships instead of one and maintain both of the locks until you spend the tokens. That's it.

What confused me is why exactly you'd bother with this card, but after doing some reading of the card texts and forums, I can see a pretty interesting use for this card now.

The thing that was mainly tripping me up is why I'd be willing to spend 3 points just to get a second Target Lock. I mean yeah, TL re-rolls are cool and all, and yeah, if you've got a Target Lock and a Focus, it's bloody hard not to hit with your full Attack value, but 3 points? If a large ship could somehow shoot twice in the same round, then I'd see the value in it, but as it stands, 3 points is a lot for something like this.

I'm still not entirely convinced my earlier opinion isn't the case, but I'd be remiss if I didn't let you in on the Weapon Engineer advocate's top secret use for this card. Besides the flexibility in target selection you get with being able to acquire and maintain two Target Locks, obviously.

If you look closely at the text for Gunner and Crew Member Luke, you'll note that nowhere in the text does it say that when you make your primary weapon attack (because you blew your first attack) that you have to fire on the same target as the initial attack.

I'll admit it- that blew right by me on the first pass too.

So what's the ramifications of that little nugget and why am I mentioning it on the Weapons Engineer post? Dig the following scenario-

1. Falcon with Weapons Engineer and Crew Member Luke declares Target Lock as their Action for the turn. They acquire a ship very close to them, and one very distant from them, but still in Range of the Target Lock.

2. Falcon fires on the far away Range 3 target as it's like some super dangerous guy like Turr Phennir or Vader or somebody. After performing the steps in the Combat Phase, the Falcon has burned it's Target Lock on Phennir, but no hits (rulebook sense of the word) land against the Range 3 target.

3. Criteria for Crew Member Luke is met, Luke fires on the Range 1 target, spends Target Lock to re-roll attack dice if necessary.

That's pretty cool. Doubly so if firing on that Range 3 target burns off a Focus or Evade token and somebody else in your list can put some shots on him that he can't modify.

That said, you're talking about a pretty good amount of points for all that to happen, even downgrading Luke to Gunner, and it's also fairly contextual on maneuvers, PR, rolls, and possibly an opponent who makes a less than optimal decision regarding the interaction of hits and Crew Member Luke/ Gunner when they're fired upon. What I mean to say is this- I've not tried this little gambit yet. At first glance, it seems very much like one of those things that looks pretty good on paper, but may perform less than desired in real life. Still though, it does provide some flexibility in target selection, and if you were already planning on taking everything mentioned above except the Weapons Engineer, this might be just the boost your list needs to get past your usual opponent.

Note that play works on the Firespray as well, but as there's no 360 turret, your Target Lock options are a little more limited, so use with caution. Understand though, the initial part of this might work a little better as the Firespray has access to the Heavy Laser Cannon or Ion Cannon, neither of which would allow for an extra defense die at Range 3 as they're both Secondary Weapon Systems.

As linking to random-ass YouTube clips is sort of becoming a staple on here and this article currently has none, let me just say, I'm not goan' talk about Judy. In fact, we're not goan' talk about Judy at all. We're goan' keep her out of this.

18 March 2013

Bikini Battle Basics- The Combat Phase Explained!

Bikini Battle Basics is a new series here on TheMetalBikini.com where we dissect certain game mechanics to aid in understanding and promote effective application. In short, it's stuff you need to know, but is somewhat obtuse or hard to understand and warrants further discussion, but don't fit directly into a site category like Listbuilding, for example. 

I've seen a lot of questions on rules forums about weapons, ability effects, and face-up Damage card text that can be resolved by simply taking a really close look at the Combat Phase. As I'm not immune to stuff like this either (I just figured out last week when writing up that article on the Ion Cannon that I've actually been playing Ion Weapons wrong), I thought perhaps a Bikini Battle Basics- The Combat Phase was in order. 

Before you start reading, bear in mind, what we call hits and crits when we roll the dice are not actually hits and crits. I think this is where a lot of folks get confused with rules and card text. Hits and crits (local parlance) are simply filled explosion symbol results (what most folks call hits) and unfilled explosion symbol results (what we call crits) until Step 6, so throw the hits and crits thing out the window for now.

Just realize if you haven't already, if I say "local parlance", I'm talking about what people say (i.e. die results, not a rules defined "hit"), otherwise when I use the term "hit" I'm talking about what the rules say. 

Clear as mud? Ok, let's go.

The part in the rulebook we're looking at is the Combat Phase, page 10-13.

1. Declare Target
Ok. Right. Pretty standard stuff here, the only thing I'd draw attention to is not being able to target an enemy ship you overlapped in the maneuver phase that's still touching you. Also note that you're totally fine pre-measuring to see if your intended target falls within the range of your weapon at no penalty (meaning if he's out of range, you can still choose to fire on somebody else this turn that's in range, in arc, etc.). 

2. Roll Attack Dice
K. Determine the attack value of the weapon you want to fire, pick up that many red dice, drop them on the table. Simple enough. Remember if you're at Range 1, you roll one extra die unless you're using a Secondary Weapon System (in which case, you get no extra dice- no soup for you).

3. Modify Attack Dice
This is where you can spend action tokens and resolve abilities that re-roll or otherwise modify attack dice results. I don't think it could happen in Wave 1, but in Wave 2, there are some defender abilities that resolve against the attack dice. If you're in a situation where both the attacker and defender have abilities that modify the attack dice, the defender resolves his modifications first, then the attacker resolves his.

4. Roll Defense Dice
Defender rolls number of defense dice equal to his ship's Agility value. He gets an extra green die if he's at Range 3 from you (unless you're firing on him with a Secondary Weapon System), or there's an obstacle between y'all. I'm going to write up a BBB on asteroids/ obstacles in the next day or two where I'll talk about this more in-depth, but for now, if the shortest path between your base and his base (which is how the "Determining Range" rule works) crosses an obstacle, he gets an extra green die. 

5. Modify Defense Dice
Same deal as attack, but for the defender this time- spend those Action tokens if you've got them and you want to use them. Also note if both the attacker and defender have abilities that resolve against the defense roll, the attacker's abilities resolve first, then the defender's. 

6. Compare Results
This is where the die result cancellation actually happens and is the first time the word "hit" is actually used in this context. Note when cancelling, Evade results and tokens are applied to filled explosion symbols (hits, in the local parlance) before the unfilled explosion symbols (crits). 

7. Deal Damage
If the defender was successfully hit (official rules definition) by the attacker, he loses shield tokens (if applicable) and/ or receives Damage cards based on the damage it suffers- uncancelled filled explosions result in a Damage card, uncancelled unfilled explosions result in Critical Damage, which is a Damage card turned face up). Note that crits (local parlance) have the same effect as hits (local parlance) against shields- it's only when they hit the hull that something different happens. 

Of course, if a ship incurs damage equal or greater than its Hull value, it's immediately destroyed (unless subject to simultaneous attack rule- long story short, you and the other guy are at the same PR) and the model is removed from the game.